The chances are that we were all glued to our television screens recently when news filtered through that a plane had been forced to make an emergency landing on a river in New York. Many of us thought terrorists had once again wreaked havoc with the aviation industry, particularly given the location of the forced landing.
However, it quickly transpired that the incident had been caused by birds flying into the plane’s engines. The passengers and crew members were extremely lucky to survive and the last thing any of us now want to see is a repeat episode of this scary event.
It therefore comes as disturbing news to find out that airport officials are concerned that planes departing from and arriving at Glasgow airport could suffer similar fates. Officials are worried that birds currently roosting close to the airport could fly into jet engines and cause a tragedy.
An area close to the runways at Glasgow is home to whooper swans which migrate from Iceland. According to BAA, the birds should be moved from this area. However, disturbing the birds is disallowed since they are not only a protected species but are also inhabiting a site of special scientific interest.
A spokeswoman for BAA was keen to downplay the panic surrounding this latest news. She revealed that bird patrols occur throughout the day and night, and several measures are performed which aim to prevent birds approaching the runways. These measures include spraying chemicals to remove nutrients from the area immediately surrounding the runway and playing fake noises of distressed birds.
The Irish airline Aer Lingus are kings of their homeland and are the British Airways of the skies in their home country. Since they were founded in 1936, the Dublin based airline has grown from strength to strength and currently has over 41 Airbus aircraft. Roughly a quarter of their ownership comes from the Irish government and another quarter surprisingly from the other Irish airline Ryanair and the influence from the latter might explain their latest move.
This year sees Aer Lingus seriously considering setting up camp outside their own island. Following a move to Belfast last year, which then gave them three bases in Dublin, Cork and then the Northern Irish capital, they now have their sights set on one of either Glasgow or Edinburgh.
Aer Lingus’ corporate affairs editor, Enda Corneille, announced the plans for one of the two sites to be the next step for the airline but he gave no time scale as it would all be dependent on acquiring three new aircraft to serve the airline. The plan would ideally be to use these three new aircraft to serve up to ten European cities.
Although they part-own some of Aer Lingus, Ryanair look like they won’t allow the move with some stiff but healthy competitive opposition and they already have a head start at Prestwick and are making good ground in Edinburgh.
Scottish travellers have been hit hard this month with new scheduling put in place which will affect routes between Heathrow and Glasgow airports.
Earlier in July it was reported that BA would be dropping the 6am service from Glasgow to Heathrow meaning that the first daily service will be 7 am, too late for many travellers who commute to London for business. The airline has now announced that it will be bringing forward the last flight of the day, from Heathrow to Glasgow, changing the time from 8pm to 6.45 pm. It is thought that the new times will affect Scottish commuters who may have to work late in London and could easily miss the last connection up north. According to Bill Munro of Business Travel, the new timetable could also adversely affect Scottish holidaymakers. He said, “the new times will not connect well with a lot of holiday flights. It could mean passengers having to spend an extra night in London on their return journey.”
The changes will be put in place starting from October 2008, reducing the number of BA flights between the two cities from ten to nine. The changes have raised particular concerns over BA’s commitment to business in Scotland with business leaders believing that BA has not taken into account the flexibility of travel times required for business users. BA have denied the accusations maintaining that Scottish travellers are extremely important to BA and that the changes are being taken in the interest of the airline as a whole. A spokesperson from the airline said, “We operate more flights a day to Scotland than we do to any other part of our worldwide network.”
A £4 million boost has been given to the Scottish terrorism security fund a year after a terrorist attack on Glasgow airport. New security systems include funds for at least fifty new counter-terrorism jobs that are aimed at preventing this kind of disaster from happening again.
On Saturday 30th June 2007, a dark green Jeep was driven into Glasgow airport’s main terminal glass doors. The Jeep had been loaded with propane canisters and it instantly caught fire. It was only one day after the attempted terror attack in London which was thankfully foiled. The Glasgow attack has since been linked to it.
Nobody was killed in the fire at Glasgow airport but six people, including the driver of the car, were seriously injured and suffered severe burns. Now, a year on from the Glasgow attack, Scottish ministers have given police chiefs an extra £4 million to tackle the threat of terrorism.
The extra cash will pay for more than fifty counter-terrorism officers in an attempt to better prepare for these types of attacks and prevent them from happening again in the future. The money will also go towards educating staff on issues surrounding terrorism as well as on communication and other key elements integral to terrorism prevention.
In comparison to England, who spent £472 million on anti-terrorism in the last financial year (2007/08), Scotland only allocated £12 million. To match England’s spending levels, Scotland would have needed to spend around £50 million, so this £4 million boost is a step in the right direction for Scottish anti-terrorism action.
Since the 9/11 twin towers disaster back in 2001, the awareness of Islamic extremism is a lot higher for everybody. Between 11th September 2001 and 31st March last year (2007) 1165 arrests were made under the Terrorism Act 2000.
Glasgow Airport is determined to win back the title of Scotland’s busiest airport, an accolade currently held by Edinburgh. £25 million is to be spent between now and the end of the year on upgrading and updating the main terminal building in order to improve the whole experience for passengers. According to the airport’s managing director, it will be a “21st century gateway for the west of Scotland.”
The new Skyhub will be excellent news for passengers who, from October, will be channelled through a single security zone complete with hi-tech capabilities. Room will also be made for new shops, bars and restaurants as an important part of BAA’s £200 million investment in the airport over the next ten years.
Passenger numbers have gone up by 60% in the last decade and projected figures show that no fewer than 24 million passengers could be passing through Glasgow Airport by 2030, attracted by the increase in numbers of long haul flights, new scheduled international flights, and the improved facilities.
This spring, routes to the Canadian cities of Calgary, Toronto and Vancouver are to be introduced, whilst later in the year flights will leave Glasgow for Cardiff, Newquay, Plymouth, La Rochelle in France and Faro, gateway airport for Portugal’s Algarve. Scotland’s most successful intercontinental route, Glasgow to Dubai, is evidence of the airport’s potential; over half a million passengers travelled on the Emirates route in the first three years of its operation.
The massive investment is not only good news for passengers but also for the economy and, in particular, employment in the area. Currently 5300 people work at the airport but 7000 new jobs are expected to be created as a result of the revamp.